Your guide to Italy's osterie, an app from Slow Food Editore
Slow Food Editore publishes an annual guide "Osterie d'Italia" that's indispensable for travelers in Italy. The English version comes out sporadically, though: Right now, they're still pushing "Osterie e Locande d'Italia: a Guide to Places to Eat and Stay in Italy," which came out in 2007, while the 2012 guide in Italian has already been published.
The guide collects small, out-of-the-way taverns where you can find authentic regional food, cheeses and wines. But at $29, I'm not going to buy a copy every time a new one comes out. Also, it's bulky to carry around.
Enter the new iPhone app: "Osterie d’Italia 2012," a bargain at $9.99, compared with the book.
You can look up restaurants by region or by specialty (meat, fish, vegetables, first courses). You can search by name, or by viewing an area on the map. You can also filter the results according to symbols that represent locally brewed beer, great wines, wines by the glass, parking, rooms to sleep, baby menu, disabled access -- even gluten-free.
Much of the text is in Italian, with English headings -- for example, "Slow Food- recommended dishes" with no translations of the menu items. Put an Italian-English dictionary on your iPhone, though, and you're covered for anything you don't recognize.
You can star your favorites while searching through the regional listings. And for stay-at-homes, the app also includes 100 simple recipes organized by region. No pictures though.
I'm a big fan of restaurant and travel guide apps. They're more up-to-date than that big book. (Why are some of them printed on such heavy paper?) And the map function is a big plus.
Hit the information button for any restaurant and you get all the relevant info, including when an establishment take its holidays and when it is closed. This is cool: Hit the phone number and a box comes up asking if you want to dial the number by phone or by Skype. There's also a place to add your own photos and notes.
Easily portable, easy to update, the app is going to be the future of guidebooks.
-- S. Irene Virbila
Photos: Screenshots from the "Osterie d’Italia 2012" app.